While September may seem like a long way off, for parents with children starting school then, now is a great time to start planning the preparation
As parents and carers, we invest so much time and energy into supporting our children through transitions. We blend food as they go from being milk-only drinkers to little foodies. We hold their hands (and hide the breakables) as they progress from being crawlers to walkers and we spend lots of time planning and talking about the move from their cot to a ‘big bed’.
Settling a child into a crèche or with a childminder can cause many sleepless nights as we worry relentlessly whether they will be ok without us. These are all big transitions for our child but what gets them through it is the fact they we have prepared them for it.
While September may seem like a long way off, for parents with children starting school then, now is a great time to start planning the preparations.
As a parent/carer, you play the leading role in helping to prepare your child for school. As the people who know, love and care for them in a way that nobody else can, you are their biggest security blanket.
You can help them feel more confident and enthusiastic about the changes ahead. Starting school isn’t just about that first day. It’s a process that begins at birth, when your baby is born ready to learn.
They know that you’ll meet their needs and comfort them when they cry. Their little brains are growing and every emotion and interaction your baby experiences helps that growth. Everyday you are helping to build the foundations for their future.
In addition to your own instincts and experiences, there are many things that you can do to support the transition to primary school. Begin by choosing a school that will best suit your child and their needs, and then do some research.
Find out, for example, if another child at your child’s preschool will be going and organise a meet-up over the summer. Let your child know what familiar faces to expect in a place that will all be very new and very different for a while. Use the next few months to really support your child’s independence and use play (their most fluent language) to do it.
For practicing opening and closing lunch boxes, take picnics in the park. For taking on and off their own coat, have plenty of trial runs on teddies and dolls. Sing songs as they wash their hands after using the bathroom. Basically, find fun ways to prepare them for what they will be doing for themselves soon. Talk positively about your own memories of school, the friends your made and the teachers you liked. All of this will build your child’s confidence which will make the transition less daunting.
This article was written by a member of Parenting Limerick, a network of parenting and family support organisations. For more information on this and other topics go to www.loveparenting.ie.
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